I thought it was an easy question ….
And after ummmmm….like …(I’m 29 … I tell ya, 29!) … 30 plus some odd years on this earth you would think that I’d know better.
Every day for going on 15 years I have spent hours focused on a constantly (r)evolving variety of human and environmental rights issues as part of my “day job.” This tends to put me in regular contact with academics, government officials, activists, specialists and others equally (and often more) focused on the issue at hand.
Most often the issues I am writing about are near and dear to my heart on a personal level as well (hence, my propensity to suddenly ejaculate massive amounts of passionate information on subjects that have little to do with the actual conversation I am having at the time). Many of my live and virtual friends find this endlessly interesting and a bit odd. As a result, I tend to attract a lot of questions and requests for explanation on issues.
That started me thinking (yes, yes, I know … that’s always a dangerous undertaking):
What does the average person know about human and environmental rights? What are the issues they think about? And then, finally, what are the issues that your average person passionately believes everyone else should also be aware of?
(You see what’s coming don’t you ….?)
I put the question out on Twitter (yes, yes, despite the Resident Evil twitpoll debacle … which, yes, I KNOW, was after the Twoscar weekend incident).
I thought – perhaps naively – that I would take the top five issues/themes and do a blog post giving each one of them a treatment with links for more information.
The answers were amazing! (Thank you to everyone who responded!)
Most respondents listed issues or themes such as the following (in no intended order of importance):
human trafficking, Darfur, Sudan, conflict minerals, the right to water, global warming, plastic patches in oceans, women in decision making, reliance on fossil fuels, women in Islam, poverty, education, corporate greed vs. fairness and decency, rainforest destruction, FGM and the Gulf oil spill.
A few particular tweets caught my attention as illuminating in a broader sense than my question conveyed.
@ChristineBader commented: First and foremost, be aware of what rights you might be infringing. Start with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. You can’t always pick which issues you get to pay attention to!
@bjwanlund tweeted: “I do. I believe that everyone “must know” what human and environmental rights REALLY mean. (because gay rights = human rights to me)
@SusanneUre said: I’d say the leading contributors to human rights violations worldwide would be astoundingly poor governance & deep poverty. (Susanne ure)
As I watched the answers pour in I was delighted to see the passion but realized rather quickly that there was simply no way I could:
a) Choose just five based on the breadth of responses
b) Select what I thought were the most vital (because that was the polar opposite of the original idea)
So here’s what I’m going to do …. And I hope no one will consider this a cop-out.
First, here is a link to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you’ve never reviewed it, I suggest you do.
Second, I will work my way through the list above and post over the coming days on the issues that speaks most directly to the work I am doing now (which include right to water, conflict minerals, rainforest degradation and indigenous rights, and poverty alleviation).
Third, if you’re reading this and see an issue up there that you feel must get an individual post to itself – or want to hear more about one of the issues, leave me a comment here, email or ping my via Twitter @jterzieff